That is fair. Complete mission.
If you can roll the tape back into AOL merger, what can you do to prevent disaster?
Two years before the merger, AOL was valued at $ 20 billion. At the time of the merger, it was at $ 160 billion. At that stage, there is more downside risk than going up, and it makes sense to have more diversified types of businesses. So whether you consider strategic possibilities in terms of broadband or financial diversification or branding or content, a little hedging makes sense.
Also, in retrospect, the decision to merge strategically with Time Warner rather than doubled down on the internet [was wrong]. We can buy eBay, we can buy Electronic Arts, we are discussing with both. That would certainly be easier to manage and would probably generate more lasting growth, and consolidate, or at least keep AOL in place.
I wish AOL was still here, not anywhere. But not much willa-cana-shoulda because when I think about each of those decisions, it seems like it was the right one. [at the time].
Steve Case, and Gerald Levin, President and CEO of Time Warner, right, January 10, 2000 in New York. (via Getty Images)You write that in its heyday, AOL was like Snapchat, iTunes, Facebook all in one – the door to the online world. These days, Facebook is trying to do all of that. Can a company be all that?
Facebook is doing a lot of really, really good things. AOL is even broader than that because we are providing access, ramp, software, and a complete set of communications features. Facebook is not the stop: they don’t have to be present at this moment. At the same time, there are some things they want to do that they haven’t done yet. Despite Facebook’s brand, platform, and audience, they have not been successful doing things like photos, which is why they bought Instagram. They don’t have everything to contact, which is why they bought WhatsApp. So they used their currency to buy other things. I would imagine that they would continue to do it.
Let’s talk about The Third Wave. As you describe it, The Third Wave ends the era of giant businesses set up in dormitory rooms.
That’s a bit strong. I don’t say that. There will continue to be some success [in the model of] Facebook or Snapchat, but the focus will be on not just creating apps, but on how you integrate the software and the internet into other aspects of our lives: health, study and the like. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the average age of a third-wave entrepreneur is bigger. Not necessarily as old as me But maybe 40 things, not 20 things because they’ll have some history in different industries, some reputations for establishing partnerships and dealing with government. The center of the third wave is integrating [technology] In education and healthcare, take advantage of things like smart city ambient sensors.
You also say that a big part of Third Wave is dealing with gatekeepers. That’s not good. Net’s initial excitement was about to ignore guard.
In fact, to some extent, all three of the things I’m describing – partnership, policy and perseverance – are not good. It’s like, “Oh shit.” Partnerships are more difficult because you have to find a way to manipulate your benefits. The policy is harder: most entrepreneurs don’t want to spend time with government regulators. And persistence is harder. There’s a ten-year slogan like we did with AOL before your final breakout isn’t nearly as exciting as overnight success. So I understand that people are reading my book and speaking. “Oh, I like the second wave. I want more ”. Some entrepreneurs and investors will do it. But those opportunities will gradually decrease.